Last week, from the 10th to 16th of September New York held its “Fashion Week” displaying works and providing a playground for the mingling or fashion designers from all over the world. A variety of Chinese designers were also in attendance such as Vivenne Tam who hails from Hong Kong. The numbers of China’s mainland-based designers reporting to the event are increasing. This year, much of this spotlight was drawn by Shanghai based fashionista Leaf Greener.
The name she goes by in Chinese literally translates to “Leaf” (叶子 yèzǐ), and she has been jokingly called the “International Leaf” (国际叶 guójìyè) as well because she has written for a variety of international publications from New York magazine to Vogue Australia. Leaf rose to fame with her tenure at Elle China from 2008 to 2014. During this time, the magazine’s circulation rose to 1.3 million readers and became the first magazine of its time to become a bi-monthly publication. Last year she left the magazine to pursue an independent career as a stylist and fashion consultant. Additionally she has started her own magazine on Chinese social media platform WeChat bearing the epithet “Live Simple, Dress Cool”—trendily written in English.
Leaf considers a desire for fashion to be a natural instinct. She considers loving “beautiful things” a part of our human nature. Furthermore, she attributes fashion to be an integral part of Chinese culture and sees a return to such concerns as inevitable citing that Chinese women are increasingly spending higher percentages of their income on fashion products than their Western counterparts. She has also noted different fashion trends developing within China. For example, she has stated that while Beijing’s women like to wear more color and have more “bling” the women of Shanghai prefer “black or less obvious colors”. She traces her understanding of these two cities to having studied in Beijing and currently working in Shanghai. That said many different styles are developing throughout the country. “Even as a Chinese person I can’t understand the whole of the country,” she has mused to a Chinese fashion magazine, “[so] I often tell foreigners you can’t just go to Beijing or Shanghai then understand the whole of China.”
With nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram and over 270,000 on Weibo, Leaf Greener’s fashion sense is itself complex. Self described as “mental”, her sense of fashion is an amalgamation of the designer’s various moods: colorfully Beijing and drably Shanghai depending on the day—and willing to take risks.
Currently working with brands like H&M and Mo&Co Paris while at the same time developing distinctly Chinese endeavors such as her WeChat posts, the Chinese stylist is yet another example of the changing landscape of Chinese culture. On one hand she cites her countries past, but on another is looking distinctly towards the future—or, at least, the Fifth Avenue pent houses holding parties for New York’s Fashion Week.
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